House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) says he has reservations about legislation headed to his chamber that he calls a significant expansion of gaming. He's anticipating the House will amend the bill.
The Senate-approved legislation includes tax breaks for casinos, adding live table games to racetrack casinos and allowing riverboats to move their gaming facilities completely on land. The bill aims to steel the state’s wagering facilities against pressure from gaming in all surrounding states.
Bosma says he understands that the state already essentially ignores the requirement that casinos be on water, but he has concerns about what he calls, in his words, “dropping the façade.”
“Because then I don’t think you can say no to anyone and you could have a casino here in downtown Indianapolis, you can have it in all of our urban areas and there’s no real means of saying, ‘Gee, that’s not our current public policy.’”
Senator Ron Alting (R-Lafayette), one of the bill’s sponsors, says the legislation only allows riverboats to move onto land adjacent to the water.
“That whole footprint already is legalized gaming. So there’s no special permits, there’s no additional permits – the entire footprint is legal to operate gaming on.”
He believes Bosma will ultimately support the bill despite the Speaker’s personal feelings.
“He will do what’s in the best interests of Indiana and sometimes, including myself, that means to go against some things that you might believe in.”
Senator Phil Boots (R-Crawfordsville) is the bill's first author. He says Indiana’s casinos need help as they face competition from all the surrounding states.
“We can lose, or expect to lose, up to $60 million. Anywhere from $60 million to $100 million a year in revenue to the state of Indiana just by doing nothing.”
Boots pledged to continue working on the bill as it moves through the legislative process. The bill passed in the Senate with a 32 to 18 vote.